Though the Star Trek: Discovery spinoff Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is supposed to be offering up some old school adventures featuring the original Enterprise crew, in a surprise cast video during today’s Star Trek Day celebrations, it was revealed that not only are some old favorites coming back, with a new Nyota Uhura, but also that one character may have ties to the most notorious Star Trek villain of all time: Khan.
The series takes place after the events of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, when Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Number One, aka Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), and Science Officer Spock (Ethan Peck) went back to the Enterprise to head off on their mission to explore, per the title, strange new worlds. And we’ve known for a little while that this wouldn’t just be a three man mission, set years before Kirk boarded the ship and the original Star Trek series kicked off.
Now we know that in addition to some new characters with very intriguing names (which we’ll get to in a moment), we’re also getting recasts for characters well known to fans of Star Trek, and the Original Series in particular.
The first is Celia Rose Gooding as as Cadet Nyota Uhura. The role was made famous by Nichelle Nichols, which she portrayed throughout the Original Series and movies, as well as by Zoe Saldana in the more recent reboot movies.
She’ll be joined by Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, which is a fun little twist through Star Trek lore. Majel Barrett, the late wife of Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry, portrayed Number One (the role now being played by Romijn) in the original Star Trek pilot that featured Captain Pike. That pilot was scrapped, and the crew was replaced by Kirk (William Shatner) and company in a new pilot. So Rodenberry and crew were able to recast Barrett in a new role, as Nurse Chapel. Meaning that there are now two actresses on Strange New Worlds, both playing Barrett’s roles. If someone else plays the ship’s computer, which Barrett also did the voice of in the Original Series, that’s a trifecta.
One other character that will show up: Baba Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga, a character originally played by Booker Bradshaw in two episodes of the Original Series.
But on to the new characters! Those include Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas, who doesn’t have a lot of reference in Star Trek lore as far as I can tell. There’s also Bruce Horak as the intriguing, alien Hemmer, who I believe is an Aenar, an all-white subspecies of the Andorians.
Most interesting, though, is the eye-brow-poppingly named La’an Noonien-Singh, played by Christina Chong. This is raw speculation here, but it’s impossible to hear that last name without thinking of one of the most famous Star Trek villains ever, Khan Noonien Singh (though his name is spelled without the dash). We’re getting into some deep, weird continuity here, but Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban in The Original Series and on screen in Wrath of Khan, was part of a genetically modified race of super-people sent into cryo-sleep in the, uh… 1990s. That’s what you get for starting a generations spanning sci-fi series in the ’60s, I guess. Anyway, he was asleep until 2267, when he was awoken by Kirk and crew.
Since Strange New Worlds takes place between those two time periods, it’s most likely impossible for Khan to be involved in any way; but given the name it’s not too much of a stretch to think La’an is a descendant of the villain. Will she turn on the crew? Find a loop in continuity to wake Khan up, then put him back to sleep in time for Kirk to find him?
We’ll just have to find out when Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+, most likely some time next year.
Where to watch Star Trek: Strange New Worlds